KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 5 — A former senior government official told the court today how companies seeking government guarantees would usually have to wait between one to three months to see the application go through, and that it was not a matter normally completed within several days.
Former Treasury secretary-general Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Serigar Abdullah told the High Court that he had, during his tenure within the civil service, recalled how these guarantee applications at its quickest took about a month to complete.
He gave the explanation during examination-in-chief by Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s defence lawyer Farhan Read, during the former prime minister’s RM42 million SRC International Sdn Bhd corruption trial, as the third defence witness.
Farhan: In your experience, what is the timeline for a government guarantee application to be decided by the Cabinet.
Irwan: It depends, as it can take one to three months.
Farhan: Are there instances where the application was approved in a shorter time?
Irwan: If it takes less than one month it normally depends on the urgency of the application.
Farhan: In your experience, were there any applications that took less than a month?
Irwan: I was not involved in this (SRC’s) particular application, but on average what it took was more than one month.
Mohd Irwan served as the Treasury secretary-general from August 2012 until May 2018, before he was transferred to the Public Service Department and where he served out his contract until June the same year.
At the time of the two government guarantees totalling RM4 billion which were issued to SRC International in August 2011 and February 2012, Mohd Irwan’s predecessor Tan Sri Wan Abdul Aziz Wan Abdullah was the serving Treasury secretary-general.
Finance Ministry officials who previously testified in this trial had told the court how orders supposedly originating from Najib himself were meted out, instructing them to expedite the process of SRC International’s government guarantee application in August 2011, which took mere days to be approved.
Maliami Hamad, formerly the secretary of the ministry’s Loan Management, Financial Market and Actuary Division had during the prosecution stage told the court how he was approached by SRC International’s former chief executive Nik Faisal Ariff Kamil on August 12, 2011 looking to obtain the guarantee.
Another witness in the trial, and also Maliami’s subordinate, Afidah Azwa Abdul Aziz then testified how her superior had passed on instructions supposedly originating from Najib, to expedite the guarantee application process.
Afidah had told the court how she was pressured into preparing an internal memo and a Cabinet memorandum on the same day to be included for the Cabinet’s consideration on August 15, 2011.
The court was told how the completed documents were then submitted to former Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop who signed it on August 15 before it was subsequently presented and approved by Cabinet on August 17, in just five days.
Mohd Irwan was not cross-examined by the prosecution today and was later released as a witness.
The trial before High Court Judge Mohd Nazlan Mohd Ghazali resumes on Monday.